UA 6321

I am aboard flight UA6321 from RDU (Raleigh-Durham) to IAH (Houston). I’ll have about an hour layover in Houston before heading home to Tucson. I’ll be arriving home at lunch time. I love the time change when headed west. My body didn’t really adjust to Eastern time over the 48 hours I was in North Carolina.

I’m in First Class, as per my spoiled self, aboard this E175 regional jet. This flight is Mesa Airlines as United. The two flight attendants are very nice, Mark with the very deep voice at the gate at RDU was very friendly, and the two pilots up front seem friendly over the Public Address system. They also appear to be know this aircraft well and so far it’s one of the smoothest flights I’ve been on in a long while.

Like the rest of the airlines, United has modified their service and amenities on flights. On Thursday’s flight I opted for the “Take Off” snack box on the flight to Houston, today I’ve opted for the “Tapas Box” snack box. I just ate a pack of olives and they were delicious. During my last visit with my family doctor in Chicago, he suggested I start eating more of a Mediterranean diet. This is a step in the right direction.

The visit to North Carolina was a fun adventure. I did a little work while I was there but it wasn’t too much of a distraction; it was just a couple of calls.

Even though I work in technology and I’m well aware of the advances in this space, I’m still fully amazed with being able to write a blog entry and post it on the Internet while flying in a metal tube 32K feet above the planet. It’s a little slow but fully functional.

Now I’m going to sit back, relax, and enjoy my Tapas Box.

Feelings.

I can’t imagine my parents dancing like this back around the time I was born, but apparently this was the style. At least in the movies. From 1968’s “With Six You Get Eggroll”, I believe this is the Grass Roots and “Feelings”.

Safety.

I still can’t believe the American trend of politicizing COVID-19, and coping with this deadly disease. The politicization of the pandemic makes absolutely no sense to me, and when people refuse to mask up while screaming “freedom” I can’t help but shake my head in disbelief. What in the world does your political beliefs have to do with keeping you and the people around you safe from a deadly, airborne disease?

As expected, when I disembarked in Houston I immediately noticed a drastic decrease in the number of people wearing masks in the airport, in spite of current Federal regulations that require everyone to do so. It’s Texas, and Texas does what Texas does. I don’t know if it’s smart for folks in Texas to ignore the pandemic in the long run; eventually this practice is going to kill off a number of folks that would otherwise vote for that side of the aisle.

I guess I don’t understand why the GOP would want to kill off their constituents by raising a ruckus around the precautions of a preventable disease, but then again, I don’t get the United States in general these days.

I maintained my space, kept my mask in place, and made my way through Houston airport as safely possible. I’ll do the same thing on Sunday for my return trip.

Perhaps those that refuse to wear masks will be at church or something.

UA 5502.

I’m on my first commercial flight since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. As usual, I’m flying United and all is well. I’m visiting our friends Jeff and Mark near Durham, N.C. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen them and it’s always an adventure when we visit. I’m on this trip solo with my husband and family’s blessing. They know I like little solo adventures once in a while. Since I had a ticket from pre-COVID days that was going to expire, I thought I might as well use it for this little jaunt. If this trip goes well, we’ll probably travel back East before the end of the year.

I feel a little rusty when it comes to being an airline passenger. Things have changed but things are the same. There’s a few extra announcements, folks are wearing masks like they’re suppose to, and so far there has been nothing worthy of the hype we often see in the media and on social media. We need to stop glorifying the outliers. Things are fine. Let’s hope I didn’t jinx this trip by saying that.

You may have noticed I have not been talking about my private pilot adventures. After a few prospects fell through earlier this summer, I decided to hold off on getting back into the air until after Monsoon Season. I’d rather start when the weather is a little cooler and the skies a little calmer. I’m still assessing my opportunities; there are two airfields relatively close to our home: Tucson Int’l and Ryan Airfield, the latter being the smaller of the two. We’re actually closest to Davis Monthan Air Force Base, but I doubt they’d like me fly a private flight from their busy runways.

I really miss flying, both as a private pilot and on commercial flights. I think this sense of normality in my life has disrupted my psyche a little bit, not to mention the disruption of COVID-19 and the associated idiocy around the behavior of too many people in our “civilized society”. I’ve been pulling back from social media a bit without making drastic moves and the change has helped.

When I was walking through TUS en route to this flight, I realized that Tucson, Arizona is our home and it feels right. In some ways this is the first time I’ve felt settled and this is the first time it’s clicked since moving here at the end of March. I don’t miss Chicago as much as I thought I would; I miss family and friends in Central New York. Thank goodness for FaceTime and the like for communicating with those we miss. While we had a lovely time living in Chicago for three and a half years, and we took advantage of all that we could while we were there, looking back it feels a little more transitory and frenetic than what I probably need in this stage of my life.

The house has been an adventure this Monsoon Season. We’re getting through it but there’s definitely been some challenges with leaky roofs and bad decisions of the previous owners. We’re still quite happy, just a little wetter than we should be when we stand in certain places throughout the house. We’re finally getting the homeowner insurance company under control and understanding of what’s actually going on. They seem overwhelmed with a lot of folks having the same issue in the desert Southwest.

It’s time for our snack box here in First Class, and I’m going to fully enjoy the treat.

Enjoy the friendly skies. Do your part to keep them friendly.

Opportunity.

I am solidly a Gen-Xer. I was born in the first half of the Gen-X generation. My childhood was a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n roll, or more aptly, a little bit analog and a little bit digital. I remember the lifestyle my parents talked about (2.5 kids, white picket fence, small town charm) and I know the lifestyle the millennials know (“you can be anything”, live your dreams, see the world!). I have no complaints with this but as I have become an aging Gen-Xer, I’m following the footsteps of the “when I was a kid…”.

As a technology enthusiast I am enthusiastic about computers. Makes sense, right? The lights and buttons and dials of the ages have entranced me in many ways throughout my life and because of my Gen-X roots, I think of computers first and foremost as a tool. Technology give us the opportunity to learn, grow, and express ourselves.

When I was a kid (there it is), my computer, a Commodore VIC-20, was up in my bedroom and used on rainy days or after dark. My first self-funded magazine subscription was to “Compute!”, a periodical for computer enthusiasts in this budding world of technology.

I quickly discovered the limitations of the 2K of memory in my Commodore VIC-20 by writing my own programs, usually emulators of the electronic point of sale systems I saw at various department stores. App stores would be decades away and any sort of standardization would still be a few years away. For example, I couldn’t save my program written on my VIC-20 on a floppy and open it on the Apple ][+ back at school. In those days, our software arrived by mail and specifically, by magazine.

Image from Compute!, courtesy of arstechnica.

Typing in your software line by line is an amazing way to learn how to program. I learned the importance of fast and accurate typing skills at an early age and more importantly, I learned how to spot mistakes quickly and cross check my entries in a fairly quick manner.

This “software” distributed by magazine laid the foundation of a skill set that I still use today as a Software Engineer. It taught me not only the role of technology in our lives, but how that technology works. In 2021, it’s more important than ever to know how technology works. The typical user of a smartphone or whatever may not know how to write a program, but I believe it’s really important for users to understand that whatever is happening in that little box of technology is not “magic”. We put a lot of trust in our devices. We become attached to them. We need to remember they’re a tool in our box of tricks in this game we call life.

Here’s an article from Geek Chicago that talks a little bit about how your iPhone knows so much about you. The article is five years old but the principles remain the same. It’s a short read and written in understandable terms.

Never stop learning about the devices you rely on.

Mustache!

I just watched a YouTube video of rare sitcom openings from failed pilots of the 1970s.

I miss 70s mustaches.

Jolt.

I didn’t start drinking coffee until a couple of years ago. I come from a family of coffee drinkers; it wasn’t breakfast until I heard the tinky-tinky-tink of a coffee spoon banging against the sides of my parents’ mugs of coffee every morning. My sister became a coffee drinker in her teens. I had coffee once or twice at that age, decided it wasn’t my cup of tea(?) and then didn’t start drinking coffee until I had entered my 50s. Both sets of grandparents drank coffee. One aunt and uncle don’t drink coffee, otherwise I think everyone else does.

I drink my coffee the Janeway. “Coffee, black”. I usually have two cups of coffee in the morning. Starting my workday at 5:30 AM (to keep up with the East Coast centric company I work for), coffee gets me going.

After 50+ years, I actually look forward to the stuff.

As Captain Janeway once said, “the finest organic suspension ever devised”.

Maintain.

It’s been a while since I’ve given Linux on the laptop a run. My mid-2015 Apple MacBook Pro has been wheezing and slowing down under the latest version of MacOS. I decided to wipe it out and give Ubuntu Linux a run on the machine and honestly, it’s running faster than it has in a couple of years. I’m pleased thus far. I’ll probably write a geeky entry later in the week detailing the specifics of what’s running on the machine. Almost 30 years later I can still say that using Linux on the desktop is not for the faint of heart. It’s come a long way, but it’s not as easy to use as MacOS or Microsoft Windows. But it does afford geeks like me the ability to tweak and tune the computer exactly as we want it and to see all that’s happening under the hood. And I like that sort of thing.

I also like the fact that I can probably use this computer for a few more years even though I’m pretty sure Apple will be dropping support for it next year. MacOS Monterey is coming out this fall and it’ll run on this computer, but if MacOS Big Sur is any indication, it won’t be a pretty experience. When I bought this computer in early 2016 it was the most tricked-out MacBook Pro one could buy from Apple. It’s served me well for a number of years.

I look forward to it continuing to do so for a number of more years. It doesn’t need to go to a landfill and it doesn’t need to be recycled. It needs to be used until it can’t be used no more. I’ve put my “it’s time to by a new computer” plan on hold.

My husband breathes a sigh of relief.

Old Data.

I was going through some old files this weekend and found this photo of me from 2008 or 2009. I was DJing in a local bar at the time. The photo is all grainy because it was taken in a darkened DJ booth before the days of really good cameras on smartphones. I actually think it was a snap from a webcam.

Coming across old photos like this is like discovering a box of photo albums in the attic. While I believe we should live for today and plan for tomorrow, there’s something special about looking at history, even if it’s our own history. We should never stop growing and learning, and there’s a lot to be learned from history.

Outside of this blog I’ve maintained a private journal for over a decade. Every once in a while I’ll read my writings from days gone by and, like reviewing old blog entries, realize I’m just the same guy I’ve always been moving forward in this life.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

As a youngster I always thought life would bring about drastic changes from time to time as we grew older, but now that I’m older I’ve found that for the most part this hasn’t happen. My experiences today are similar, if not hopefully wiser, as to those of 25 years ago. The moral foundation is the same, my belief system, while adjusted from growth and world experience, is pretty much the same. I can’t help but think I’ve been very lucky to have such a grounded life. I attribute my success to many things, including young parents who were just trying to do the right thing with these two youngsters they were raising.

I read about the awful things going on in the country and all over the world and I realize I have no reason to be cranky. Life is as good as we make it.

And making a good life is the success of living.

Details.

We are remodeling one of the rooms in our upstairs. On the blueprints this room is called “The Observatory”. It was originally designed to house a giant telescope. There’s counter level electrical outlets every two feet, the room is reinforced by concrete, and the room underneath contains a reinforced concrete pad to support a large telescope. The room never came to fruition as an Observatory; the previous owners of the house used it as a kid’s bedroom. It has my flight simulator and gaming computer.

We removed a shop-quality fluorescent light from the ceiling and two shop style LED lights from the walls today. Underneath, a very dark red paint. As we have seen throughout the house, when the previous owners painted a room, they left all fixtures and electrical or other coverings in place and painted around the accessory.

We now have to paint the ceiling and walls in this room.

It’s not a big deal, but it’s one extra step we didn’t plan on. Another fun discovery was the lack of an electrical box underneath the shop fluorescent lamp. We now need to fashion bracing up there so we can install a ceiling fan where the light once was.

It’s a good thing we’re all fairly good at home improvement projects.